By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
11:52 PM EDT, May 7, 2013
State officials said Tuesday they removed the security chief at the Baltimore City Detention Center in the wake of a federal indictment that alleged an extensive smuggling scheme involving gang members and officers at the facility.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said the decision had come as part of an internal inquiry sparked by the federal allegations. The state would not release the name of the person it had removed, but the Maryland State Archives, a state phone directory and two union officials representing officers at the jail identified Shavella Miles as the head of security.
Miles was hired by the department in 1999, according to state records. A woman who answered a phone number listed for Miles hung up and no one responded to subsequent messages.
The security chief supervises corrections officers at the jail and is its third-most-senior official. Neither Miles nor any others in the jail leadership were charged in the indictment.
The removal is the highest-profile personnel change since the federal indictment, which alleged that inmate members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang worked with 13 female corrections officers to smuggle contraband, including drugs and cellphones, into the facility.
Alleged gang leader Tavon White was accused of impregnating four of the officers and lavishing expensive gifts on them using proceeds from the scheme.
In response to the allegations, corrections Secretary Gary D. Maynard moved his office to the detention center, asking the state police to polygraph senior officials, and promising to do "integrity reviews" of all staff.
"The secretary made the decision to conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of all jail operations, including a review of all policies and procedures, security posts and staff reviews," said Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the department. "He is directly overseeing that process."
No other jail officials have been ousted, Binetti said, and no replacement for the security chief has been named. It was not clear whether the person still worked for the state. He said the internal assessment continues.
The General Assembly plans to hold hearings into questions raised by the federal indictment, including how corrections officers are trained and supervised. For now, House Speaker Michael E. Busch is satisfied with the steps Maynard has taken, said Busch's spokeswoman, Alexandra Hughes.
But other lawmakers have called for the secretary to resign over the charges.
Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons, who is also a defense attorney, welcomed the news that the jail's security chief had been ousted, but said it was not enough.
"Firing the security chief, which might be necessary, is a substitute for bringing in a fresh pair of eyes," said the Montgomery County Democrat. "What concerns me is if they're willing to get rid of the security chief, why aren't we willing to get rid of the person who is boss?"
Cory Trusty, the president of AFSCME local 3737, which represents officers at the detention center, said he was pleased that Miles had been removed.
Until Maynard started his review, officers were unsure whom they could trust with their concerns, he said.
Trusty said Maynard had been working closely with union leaders after the federal case was announced. "We are supporting him and his plans on changing the culture at the detention center," he said.
Those plans included the lie-detector tests for senior administrators. Binetti declined to say whether the security chief had been among those tested. The department has said previously that the top three officials at the jail would be subject to 90 minute-plus lie detector tests.
Those tests were completed by May 1, according to the department, and 65 supervisors also were lined up to be polygraphed beginning last week.
Raquel Guillory, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said he was briefed on the decision to remove the security chief.
"The governor directed Secretary Maynard to pursue this case as far and as high as it goes," she said. "There is zero tolerance for any type of integrity lapses or corruption — especially when entrusted with a position in public safety."
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